You learn at the edge of your knowledge.

To solve complex problems you have to look beyond your own area of expertise.

That is called boundary crossing. The term comes from the educational sciences.

In organizations boundaries take different shapes

Think about the differences in orientation between R&D and the sales teams. Or between specialists and experts by experience in healthcare.

When our thought worlds diverge it is difficult to share knowledge.

It is not easy to step outside the frame of your own mind

You developed your knowledge in the context of your work. It helps you to assess a situation. Someone else interprets the situation from his or her own context.

How can you work together effectively when you need knowledge from different disciplines?

That is when a boundary object can help

A boundary object is something specific you work on together. It can by anything: a database to collect information, a prototype of a technical product or a sketch of a business model on a whiteboard.

People can relate to it from their own discipline

It helps them to address what they know about the issue and what they worry about. Because you work on the object together you develop a shared language and you understand each other better.

During a meeting we often use a flipover for that purpose

You note down the most important points and people add their views. At the end of a session you take a picture of the sheets. And maybe you use them as input for a report.

But you can do more.

How do you use your flipover to think more effectively as a group?

With the paper as a platform to:

  • Collect knowledge that is distributed over different organizations.
  • Explore diverging perspectives when you do not understand each other.
  • Develop new knowledge when current approaches do not work.

In other words: How do you turn your flipover into a boundary object?

In this pdf you find 3 ways to do that

I hope it helps you to move effectively across boundaries.

Are you stuck? Or do you want to explore other ways to visualize complex issues?

I am happy to have a look together.